Archive for the ‘Saints of the 1980s’ Category

Feast of Carlo Carretto (April 2)   Leave a comment

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Above:  Carlo Carretto

Image in the Public Domain

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CARLO CARRETTO (APRIL 2, 1910-OCTOBER 4, 1988)

Spiritual Writer

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I feel immersed in God like a drop in the ocean, like a star in the immensity of night, like a lark in the summer sun or a fish in the sea.

–Carlo Carretto

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Carlo Carretto, born into a peasant family in northern Italy on April 2, 1910, eventually became a spiritual writer.  Initially he prepared to become a teacher, but politics prevented that; he was a member of the Fascist Party.  Our saint became involved in the youth wing of the Catholic Action movement instead.  That movement was consistent with his desire to advance the Catholic Church’s social and religious message.  This work occupied Carretto’s time for nearly 20 years.

In 1954 our saint answered God’s call (“Love everything and come with me into the desert.  It is not your acts and deeds that I want; I want your prayer, your love.”) to join the Little Brothers of Jesus, founded by Blessed Charles de Foucauld (1858-1916) in 1933.  Carretto arrived at El Abiodh, in Algeria, in December 1954.  There he remained for about a decade.  Time in the desert prepared Carretto to return to Europe in 1964.  He settled at Spello, Italy, the following year.  There he built an experimental faith community that involved lay people in prayer and reflection.

Carretto became a respected spiritual writer, especially for Love is for Living, Letters from the Desert, and I, Francis.  He was not, however, without ecclesiastical critics, due to his criticism of certain aspects (such as triumphalism and clericalism) of Roman Catholicism.  The challenge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, our saint insisted, was to create an oasis of love in the desert in which one finds oneself.

Who knows what creating such an oasis of love might require to one to do?

Carretto died on October 4, 1988, aged 78 years.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 23, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH, POLYCARP OF SMYRNA, AND IRENAEUS OF LYONS, BISHOPS AND MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALEXANDER AKIMETES, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT STEFAN WINCENTY FRELICHOWSKI, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT WILLIGIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF MAINZ; AND SAINT BERNWARD, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF HILDESHEIM

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Carlo Carretto,

through whom you have called the church to its tasks and renewed its life.

Raise up in our own day teachers and prophets inspired by your Spirit,

whose voices will give strength to your church and proclaim the reality of your reign,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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Feast of Joseph Bernardin (April 2)   Leave a comment

#!dcdisplay fp\b0\i0\fs10Source~LOCAL/STAFF; Shoot_Date~20.10.1996; Type~COLOR; ÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐ fs12 <> fs10card 1 metro 10/20/96 cardinal joseph bernadin waces to well-wishers as he attends a 75th anniversary celebration at st. margaret mary church in chicago. cincinnati enquirer/michael e. keating mek fp\b0\i0\fs10ÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐÐ fp\i0\b\fs16Copyright 1996 The Cincinnati Enquirer fp\b0\i0\fs10Copyright=CINCINNATI_ENQUIRER; Person=BERNARDIN_JOSEPH; Aspect=LOCAL; Aspect=STAFF; Aspect=COLOR; Aspect=CINCINNATI_ENQUIRER; Aspect=BERNARDIN_JOSEPH;

Above:  Cardinal Bernardin

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JOSEPH LOUIS BERNARDIN (APRIL 2, 1928-NOVEMBER 14, 1996)

Cardinal Archbishop of Chicago

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It has been a great privilege to know a very great man.

–Retired Archbishop of Cape Town Desmond Tutu, 1996

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Joseph Bernardin was a famous and respected cleric.  Shortly before he died, he spoke with the President of the United States.  The Governor of Illinois and the Vice President of the United States attended his funeral Mass.  Bernardin had made quite an impression.

Bernardin rose from humble origins.  His parents were poor Italian immigrants; his father earned a modest income working in a quarry.  Our saint, born at Columbia, South Carolina, on April 2, 1928, grew up in  a predominantly Protestant culture of that state.  In 1946 his family was still so poor that his mother made the suit he wore to apply to study for the priesthood.  Bernardin studied theology at Baltimore and at the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.  Our saint, ordained to the priesthood in 1952, served as a priest in Charleston, South Carolina.  During 14 years he rose through the ranks in the diocese, serving in administrative posts.  In 1966, at the age of 38 years, Bernardin became the Auxiliary Bishop of Atlanta and the youngest bishop in the Roman Catholic Church in the United States.

Bernardin’s rise through the ranks continued.  From 1968 to 1972 he served as the General Secretary of the National Council of Catholic Bishops.  Subsequently he was the Archbishop of Cincinnati (1972-1982), the President of the National Council of Catholic Bishops (1974-1977), Archbishop of Chicago (1982-1996), and a member of the College of Cardinals (1983-1996).  Our saint took his faith into the public square.  He, among other actions, opposed President Nixon’s bombing campaign in Vietnam, articulated the theology of the Seamless Garment of Life, and worked on The Challenge of Peace, the National Council of Catholic Bishop’s 1983 pastoral letter declaring  nuclear war morally unjustifiable.

Bernardin had to endure public humiliation and suffering in the 1990s.  In 1993 Steven J. Cook sued Bernardin for sexual molestation that allegedly occurred 17 years prior.  The following year Cook dropped the lawsuit, citing unreliable memories.  Bernardin, who had always insisted upon his innocence, stated publicly that the matter had proven humiliating but that he harbored no ill feelings toward Cook, who stated that he wished the Cardinal the best.  The following year Bernardin received the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.  He followed the advice of Pope John Paul II:

Offer your suffering to the world.

Bernardin ministered to other cancer patients and made himself vulnerable to the public.  He died on November 14, 1996, aged 68 years.

Bernardin was certainly a man of God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 12, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF ABSALOM JONES, RICHARD ALLEN, AND JARENA LEE, EVANGELISTS AND SOCIAL ACTIVISTS

THE FEAST OF CHARLES FREER ANDREWS, ANGLICAN PRIEST

THE FEAST OF CHRISTOPH CARL LUDWIG VON PFEIL, GERMAN LUTHERAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF MICHAEL WEISSE, GERMAN MORAVIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER AND TRANSLATOR; AND JAN ROH, BOHEMIAN MORAVIAN BISHOP AND HYMN WRITER

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Almighty God, you have raised up faithful bishops of your church,

including your servant Joseph Cardinal Bernardin.

May the memory of his life be a source of joy for us and a bulwark of our faith,

so that we may serve and confess your name before the world,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Ezekiel 34:11-16 or Acts 20:17-35

Psalm 84

1 Peter 5:1-4 or Ephesians 3:14-21

John 21:15-17 or Matthew 24:42-47

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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Feast of Blessed Oscar Romero and the Martyrs of El Salvador (March 24)   1 comment

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Above:  The Scene Immediately After the Assassination of Archbishop Romero

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED OSCAR ROMERO ARNULFO Y GALDEMEZ (AUGUST 15, 1917-MARCH 24, 1980)

Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Salvador

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I have frequently been threatened with death.  I must say that, as a Christian, I do not believe in death but in the resurrection.  If they kill me, I shall rise again in the Salvadoran people.

Martyrdom is a great gift from God that I do not believe I have earned.  But if God accepts the sacrifice of my life then may my blood be the seed of liberty, and a sign of the hope that will soon become a reality….A bishop will die, but the church of God–the people–will never die.

–Archbishop Romero, quoted in All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York:  NY:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), page 133

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This feast exists in various denominations.  From Roman Catholic websites I know of the beatification of Romero on May 23, 2015, and of the fact of decades of official suspicion that he was a Marxist.  And, based on my library, I know the following statements to be accurate:

  1. The Episcopal Church observes the feast of “Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, 1980,  and the Martyrs of El Salvador.”
  2. The Church of England keeps the feast of “Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, Martyr, 1980.”
  3. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada observe the feast of “Oscar Arnulfo Romero, Bishop of El Salvador, 1980.”

Furthermore, Robert Ellsberg, author of All Saints (1979), places Romero’s feast on March 24, the same date of the saint’s feast on the Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, and Church of England calendars.

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Archbishop Oscar Romero became a martyr for challenging the repressive government of El Salvador which had death squads that targeted civilians.  The U.S. Government, for reasons of Cold War politics, provided military aid to this regime during the Carter and Reagan Administrations.  The Cold War provided cover for a multitude of murders, apparently.

Romero, born at Ciudad Barrios, San Miguel, El Salvador, on August 15, 1917, became an apprentice to a carpenter at the age of 13 years.  The following year our saint discerned a vocation to the priesthood; he began to prepare for it.  Romero studied in El Salvador at in Rome.  Our saint, ordained a priest on April 4, 1942, became a parish priest in his homeland.  He also served as the diocesan secretary at San Miguel.

The episcopate summoned.  On April 25, 1970, Romero became the Auxiliary Bishop of San Salvador.  He left that post on October 15, 1974, to become the Bishop of Santiago de Maria.  There he began to liberalize.  Romero had been suspicious of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) and of the call (from 1968) of Archbishop Helder Camara for the Church to advocate for social justice for the poor and the oppressed, not to identify with those who oppress them.  Despite Romero’s gradual shift to the left (in progress), he remained relatively conservative when he became the Archbishop of San Salvador on February 3, 1977.

Romero’s move to the left accelerated soon after he became archbishop.  On March 12, 1977, government gunmen assassinated Father Rutilio Grande, a priest committed to social justice for campesinos.  The following Sunday the archbishop suspended Masses in the capital city and demanded the punishment of the guilty.  Romero became a vocal opponent of the regime, which killed civilians as a matter of policy; he was the “Voice of the Voiceless.”  The junta that seized power in 1979 did not cease the repression.  Early in 1980 our saint wrote President Jimmy Carter and requested that the U.S. Government halt military aid to the government of El Salvador.  This did not endear the archbishop to the Salvadoran regime, of course.

On Sunday, March 23, 1980, in a homily, Romero effectively signed his death warrant.  He said in part:

I would like to appeal in a special way to the men of the army, and in particular to the troops of the National Guard, the Police, and the garrisons.  Brothers, you belong to our own people.  You kill your own brother peasants; and in the face of an order to kill that is given by a man, the law of God should prevail that says:  Do not kill!  No soldier is obliged to obey an order counter to the law of God.  No one has to comply with an immoral law.  It is time ow that you recover your conscience and obey its dictates rather than the command of sin.  The Church, defender of the rights of God, of the law of God, of the dignity of the human person, cannot remain silent before so much abomination.

We want the government to seriously consider that reforms mean nothing when they come bathed in so much blood.  Therefore, in the name of God, and in the name of the longsuffering people, whose laments rise to heaven everyday more tumultuous, I beseech you, I beg you, I command you in the name of God:  stop the repression!

–Translated by Nena Terrell and Sally Hanlon; quoted in Jim Wallis and Joyce Hollyday, editors, Cloud of Witnesses (2005), pages 278-279

The following day, Monday, March 24, 1980, Romero preached his final homily at a hospital chapel in San Salvador.  He said in part:

“God’s reign is already present on earth in mystery.  When the Lord comes, it will be brought to perfection.”

That is the hope that inspires Christians.  We know that every effort to better society, especially when so ingrained, is an effort that God blesses, that God wants, that God demands of us.

–Translated by James R. Brockman, S.J. and quoted in The Violence of Love:  The Pastoral Wisdom of Archbishop Oscar Romero (San Francisco, CA:  Harper & Row, 1988), page 242

A government gunman assassinated Romero after the completed that homily.

Civil War began later that year and continued until 1992.  The government of El Salvador (the one receiving military aid from the United States Government) killed more than 75,000 civilians as a matter of policy.  Among those murdered by death squads were Roman Catholic priests, members of Roman Catholic orders, and lay people associated with them.

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Take up thy cross, the Saviour said,

If thou wouldst my disciple be;

Deny thyself, the world forsake,

And humbly follow after me.

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Take up thy cross; let not its weight

Fill thy weak spirit with alarm;

My strength shall bear thy spirit up,

And brace thine heart and nerve thine arm.

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Take up thy cross, nor heed the shame,

Nor let thy foolish heart rebel;

The Lord for thee the cross endured,

To save thy soul from death and hell.

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Take up thy cross then in his strength;

And calmly every danger brave;

‘Twill guide thee to a better home,

And lead to victory o’er the grave.

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Take up thy cross and follow him,

Nor think till death to lay it down;

For only he who bears the cross

May hope to wear the glorious crown.

Charles William Everest (1814-1877), 1833

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Oscar Romero took up his cross and followed Christ.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 4, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CORNELIUS THE CENTURION, WITNESS TO THE CRUCIFIXION

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Almighty God, you called your servant Oscar Romero to be a voice for the voiceless poor,

and to give his life as a seed of freedom and a sign of hope:

Grant that, inspired by his sacrifice and the example of the martyrs of El Salvador,

we may without fear or favor witness to your Word who abides, your Word who is Life,

even Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit,

be praise and glory now and for ever.  Amen.

–Isaiah 2:5-7

Psalm 31:15-24

Revelation 7:13-17

John 12:23-32

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 287

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Feast of Yves Congar (March 13)   Leave a comment

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Above:  Yves Congar

Image in the Public Domain

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YVES MARIE-JOSEPH CONGAR (MARCH 13, 1904-JUNE 22, 1995)

Roman Catholic Priest and Theologian

Father Yves Congar comes to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days via Robert Ellsberg, author of All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997).  Ellsberg lists Congar’s birth month as March and assigns his feast to March 13.  Some other sources, however, list Congar’s birth date as April 13.  Either way, his feast day on my Ecumenical Calendar is March 13.

To add Congar to an ecumenical calendar of saints is appropriate, for he was an ecumenist.  Our saint, the author of more than 15,000 articles and books, entered the world at Sedan, France, in 1904.  At the age of 17 years he decided to become a priest.  Congar went on to join the Order of Preachers, or the Dominicans.  He took holy orders in 1930.  From the 1930s forward he was an active ecumenist, presaging Vatican II’s definition of non-Roman Catholic Christians as “separated brethren,” not as heretics.  For his ecumenical activity Congar received much criticism from traditional Roman Catholics.

Congar, a military chaplain in 1939 and a prisoner of war for most of World War II, was ahead of his time theologically prior to Vatican II.  He respected tradition yet was not a traditionalist.  Tradition, for him, was living and flexible, but traditionalism was an inflexible commitment to the past.  Our saint favored returning to the sources of traditions and evaluating traditions in the context of these sources.  Thus he supported ecclesiastical reform, which he understood as both necessary and proper to allow the Church to resist the tendency toward institutionalism.  Congar also opposed hyper-clericism.  He understood the role of the laity not to be to obey, but to help to transform the world into something closer to the Kingdom of God.

The Holy Office (an ironically named institution) had been concerned about Congar since the 1930s.  Another red flag regarding our saint was his involvement in the worker-priest movement, in which priests worked in factories and led the lives of industrial workers.  In the 1950s it forbade him to teach and write.

Congar’s reputation vis-a-vis the Vatican improved in the 1960s.  Pope John XXIII invited him to serve on the committee that planned the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II).  Congar did that and more.  He influenced the proceedings of Vatican II, shaping the documents on ecumenism, mission, revelation, the Church, and the Church in the world.  The definitions of the Church as “the people of God” and of non-Roman Catholic Christians not as heretics but as “separated brethren” owed much to him.  Furthermore, his influence was evident in the statement that the Church was “at once holy and always in need of reformation.”

Pope John Paul II elevated Congar to the College of Cardinals in 1985.

Congar died at Paris, France, on June 22, 1995.  He was 91 years old.  Our saint’s health had been failing since the 1980s.

One can recognize the influence of Congar in modern Roman Catholicism.  Whenever one finds “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” in a Roman Catholic hymnal or reads of Pope Francis making positive statements about Martin Luther, one encounters evidence of the thawing of old interdenominational tensions.  Other evidence includes ecumenical dialogues involving the Roman Catholic Church.

Congar helped to shape his times for the better.  His influence persists, fortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 14, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MACRINA THE ELDER, HER FAMILY, AND SAINT GREGORY OF NAZIANZUS THE YOUNGER

THE FEAST OF CIVIL RIGHTS MARTYRS AND ACTIVISTS

THE FEAST OF KRISTEN KVAMME, NORWEGIAN-AMERICAN HYMN WRITER AND TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT SAVA I, FOUNDER OF THE SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH AND FIRST ARCHBISHOP OF SERBS

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Yves Congar,

through whom you have called the church to its tasks and renewed its life.

Raise up in our own day teachers and prophets inspired by your Spirit,

whose voices will give strength to your church and proclaim the reality of your reign,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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Feast of Martin Niemoller (March 6)   Leave a comment

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Above:  Martin Niemoller

Image in the Public Domain

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FRIEDRICH GUSTAV EMIL MARTIN NIEMOLLER (JANUARY 14, 1892-MARCH 6, 1984)

German Lutheran Minister and Peace Activist

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First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.

–Martin Niemoller

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That text, sadly, never ceases to be relevant.

If one seeks to read about a man who repented–turned around, literally–one can find such material in this post.

Martin Niemoller, born in Lippstadt, German Empire, on January 14, 1892, changed greatly during his lifetime.  He, once an officer in the imperial German navy, became a pacifist later in life.  And our saint, once a Nazi sympathizer, became an outspoken opponent of the Third Reich and a prisoner thereof.  His pilgrimage with Jesus changed his mind and made him politically unacceptable in diverse quarters.  This was because Niemoller did what he thought Jesus would do, not what he knew others wanted him to do.

Our saint was a son of Paula Muller and Heinrich Niemoller, a Lutheran minister.  Martin, educated at Lippstadt and Elberfeld, joined the imperial German navy at the age of 18 years, in 1910.  He intended to become a career officer.  Niemoller was a u-boat commander during World War I.  He, as the “scourge of Malta,” raided Allied shipping in the Mediterranean Sea.  Then Germany lost the war.

Niemoller studied theology after World War I and became an ordained minister in 1924.  Seven years later he began to serve at a parish in Berlin.  At first Niemoller welcomed the rise of Nazism.  By 1934, however, he recognized the depth of that error and denounced Ludwig Muller, the newly installed pro-Nazi Reich bishop of the German Evangelical Church.  Muller was, according to our saint, the “scourge of the church of Christ.”  Niemoller, a founder of the anti-Nazi Confessing Church, lost his position at the Berlin parish in 1934.  Nevertheless, he continued to preach there for three years.  Nazi authorities arrested him 1937.  Niemoller was a prisoner until 1945.

Our saint’s wartime experiences changed him.  He, aware of his share of guilt for the rise of the Third Reich, insisted upon collective German guilt for World War II.  News of atomic weapons horrified him.  The detonation of the hydrogen bomb a few years later completed the process of turning Niemoller into a pacifist.  The ethics of the Sermon on the Mount were incompatible with modern warfare, he concluded.

After World War II Niemoller helped to rebuild the Lutheran Church in Germany and became involved in the ecumenical movement.  From 1947 1961 he served as the President of the Evangelical Church in Hesse and Nassau.  After that, for seven years, he was President of the World Council of Churches.

Controversy followed Niemoller as he opposed war in general and modern warfare, the Cold War, and the Vietnam War in particular.  He offended not only conservative Cold Warriors but also many Cold War liberals.

Niemoller married twice.  In 1919 he became the husband of Else Bremer, who died in an automobile accident (in which he suffered injuries) in 1961.  The couple had four sons and three daughters.  He married his second wife, Sibylle von Zell, in 1971.

Our saint died at Weisbaden, West Virginia, on March 6, 1984.  He was 92 years old.

One might disagree with some of Niemoller’s answers to the question of what Jesus would do in certain circumstances.  I do.  I have, in fact, attempted to be a pacifist, without success.  I have, however, chosen to refrain from condemning pacifists and pacifism.  I do agree, however, that Jesus would not drop a hydrogen bomb on an enemy.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 9, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS PEPIN OF LANDEN, ITTA OF METZ, THEIR RELATIONS, AMAND, AUSTREGISILUS, AND SULPICIUS II OF BOURGES, FAITHFUL CHRISTIANS ACROSS GENERATIONAL LINES

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANTHONY MARY PUCCI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF JULIA CHESTER EMERY, UPHOLDER OF MISSIONS

THE FEAST OF SAINT PHILIP II OF MOSCOW, METROPOLITAN OF MOSCOW AND ALL RUSSIA AND MARTYR

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Martin Niemoller,

through whom you have called the church to its tasks and renewed its life.

Raise up in our own day teachers and prophets inspired by your Spirit,

whose voices will give strength to your church and proclaim the reality of your reign,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 19:35-45

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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Feast of Karl Rahner (March 5)   Leave a comment

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Above:  Karl Rahner

Image in the Public Domain

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KARL RAHNER (MARCH 5, 1904-MARCH 30, 1984)

Jesuit Priest and Theologian

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The number one cause of atheism is Christians.  Those who proclaim Him with their mouths and deny Him with their actions is what an unbelieving world finds unbelievable.

–Karl Rahner

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Karl Rahner, probably the greatest Roman Catholic theologian of the twentieth century, characterized his life in modest terms:

I do not know what’s happened to my life.  I did not lead a life; I worked, wrote, taught, tried to do my duty and earn my living.  I tried in this ordinary everyday way to serve God–that’s it.

–Quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York, NY:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), page 103

Our saint, born at Freiburg, Germany, on March 5, 1904, came from a devout Roman Catholic family.  An older brother, Hugo Rahner (1900-1968), became a Jesuit in 1919 then went on to become a scholar of patristics.  Karl joined the Society of Jesus three years later and became a priest in 1932.  He studied philosophy at the University of Freiburg.  There Rahner sought to expand his horizons beyond neo-Thomism.  The inquisitive pupil attended lectures by Martin Heiddeger (1889-1976), an existentialist philosopher.  Rahner wrote a thesis, Spirit in the World (published in 1939), a study of the metaphysics of St. Thomas Aquinas in the context of philosophy from Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) to Heiddeger.  Our saint’s neo-Thomist professor rejected it.  Rahner completed a degree at the University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria.  In 1937 he joined the theological faculty there.  Two years later, however, Nazis closed the university.

Rahner, ever a priest, worked as a pastor in Vienna during World War II.

Our saint was also a natural academic.  He taught at Pullach, Bavaria, from 1945 to 1948.  Then he returned to the University of Innsbruck, becoming Professor of Dogmatic Theology in 1949.  Rahner, ultimately author of more than 4000 articles and books, became the subject of Vatican censorship before his return to favor in 1962.  That year he became an architect of the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II), for which he contributed to the documents on the church, revelation, and the church in the world.  Rahner was Professor of Religion at the University of Munich from 1964 to 1967 then Professor of Systematic Theology at the University of Munster from 1967 to 1971.  Finally our saint retired to Munich then, in 1981, to Innsbruck.  He continued to be an active theological writer in retirement.

Rahner died at Innsbruck on March 30, 1984.  He was 80 years old.

Our saint, rooted in Roman Catholic tradition, sought to make that tradition intelligible to the modern, pluralistic, post-Enlightenment world.  He began this project during the repression of modernism instituted by Pope St. Pius X (reigned 1903-1914) and not ended until Vatican II.  Despite more openness from Vatican II forward, many conservative Roman Catholics have never approved of Rahner’s theology.  He has been an agent of the degradation of true faith, they have concluded to the present day.

Rahner emphasized the role of human experience in divine revelation.  He argued that, for people to perceive divine revelation, the communication of it must be comprehensible via human experience.  Our saint also wrote that the infinite mystery of God is the root of all human existence, so religious experience is not a category separate from the rest of life.  Rahner also insisted that grace is intrinsic to human nature, which God has ordained to be open to receiving grace.  Therefore, he wrote, opening oneself to grace in every situation is the way to salvation.

One might quibble with aspects of Rahner’s theology, but the emphasis on grace is positive.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 9, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS PEPIN OF LANDEN, ITTA OF METZ, THEIR RELATIONS, AMAND, AUSTREGISILUS, AND SULPICIUS II OF BOURGES, FAITHFUL CHRISTIANS ACROSS GENERATIONAL LINES

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANTHONY MARY PUCCI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF JULIA CHESTER EMERY, UPHOLDER OF MISSIONS

THE FEAST OF SAINT PHILIP II OF MOSCOW, METROPOLITAN OF MOSCOW AND ALL RUSSIA AND MARTYR

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O God, by your Holy Spirit you give to some the word of wisdom,

to others the word of knowledge,

and to others the word of faith.

We praise your Name for the gifts of grace manifested in your servant Karl Rahner,

and we pray that your Church may never be destitute of such gifts;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit

lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Wisdom of Solomon 7:7-14

Psalm 119:97-104

1 Corinthians 2:6-10, 13-16

John 17:18-23

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 720

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Feast of Henri de Lubac (February 20)   Leave a comment

henri-de-lubac

Above:  Henri de Lubac

Image in the Public Domain

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HENRI-MARIE JOSEPH DE LUBAC (FEBRUARY 20, 1896-SEPTEMBER 4, 1991)

Roman Catholic Priest, Cardinal, and Theologian

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Take note, theologians; you run the risk of someday having to condemn as heretics those who declare as you do that the earth stands still.

–Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)

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Both Henri de Lubac and Galileo Galilei understood the changing nature of orthodoxy, as the magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church defines it.

De Lubac, born at Cambrai, France, on February 20, 1896, was a Jesuit.  He joined the Society in Jesus in 1913.  From 1914 to 1919 our saint served in the French Army.  Afterward he studied theology, culminating in his ordination to the priesthood in 1927.

De Lubac’s life and theological standing had their ups and downs.  He joined the faculty of the University of Lyons in 1929.  Our saint, a neo-scholastic theologian, criticized certain aspects of Church teaching in the light of the Church Fathers, as in Catholicism (1938).  In other words, he thought that the Church had, in some aspects, strayed from its foundations.  That which conservatives (from a certain point of view) considered an ill-conceived innovation was actually a return to an older tradition.  Then period of 1940-1944 was difficult for de Lubac, part of the resistance to both the direct Nazi occupation of part of France and the puppet French State, or the Vichy regime.  After the liberation (1944) normal life resumed for our saint.  In Surnaturel (1946) de Lubac argued against the false dichotomy between the natural and the supernatual with regard to human destinies.  He stated that God had created people with inherent and natural openness to and desire for the supernatural.  Simply put, according to our saint, the true human vocation is union with God.

Pope Pius XII (reigned 1939-1958) disapproved of the work of de Lubac and other Roman Catholic theologians who critiqued Church teaching in the light of the Church Fathers.  The Supreme Pontiff condemned them in the encyclical Humani Generis (1950) and silenced de Lubac for eight years.  Our saint studied Buddhism and literature instead.  He also defended Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955), whom the Vatican had silenced for decades.  Pope John XXIII (reigned 1958-1963) rehabilitated de Lubac and, in 1960, recruited him to help with Vatican II.  Our saint also helped to write the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (1965) and the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (1965).

De Lubac, a liberal pre-Vatican II and a conservative post-Vatican II, proved the argument that those labels are relative to the center and that, when the center moves, one’s label changes.  Pope John Paul II (reigned 1978-2005) made our saint a cardinal in 1983.

De Lubac died, aged 95 years, in Paris, France, on September 4, 1991.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 6, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICETIUS OF TRIER, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ABBOT, AND BISHOP; AND SAINT AREDIUS OF LIMOGES, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST OF SAINT ABRAHAM OF KRATIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ABBOT, BISHOP, AND HERMIT

THE FEAST OF HENRY USTICK ONDERDONK, EPISCOPAL BISHOP, LITURGIST, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICHOLAS OF MYRA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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O God, by your Holy Spirit you give to some the word of wisdom,

to others the word of knowledge,

and to others the word of faith:

We praise your Name for the gifts of grace manifested

in your servant Henri de Lubac, and we pray

that your Church may never be destitute of such gifts;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit

lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Wisdom 7:7-14

Psalm 119:97-104

1 Corinthians 2:6-10, 13-16

John 17:18-23

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 720

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